By on December 6, 2007

dsg-shot-from-r32_m_m.jpgPound another nail in the third pedal's coffin. AutoSpectator reports BorgWarner (BW) has developed low-cost dual-clutch transmission technology for small cars. Previously, dual-clutch trannies were too complex and costly to use in low-priced cars or in developing markets. However, BW has applied for patents for a smaller and simpler version that will provide a 13 percent improvement in fuel efficiency with better performance (oh yes) than current slushboxes. Once they go into full production mode, they expect the technology to be used in 2.3m transmissions worldwide. And then some.

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67 Comments on “DSG Goes Mainstream: Say Goodbye to the Stick...”


  • avatar
    quasimondo

    The manual gearbox. Another piece of automotive art soon to be extinct, like the inline six cylinder engine.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Good, the sooner we can say goodbye to the outdated manual gearbox the better. Most of my cars have been auto gearboxes and I love them. SO much more pleasant to drive. I know there will be those who say “But it’s a much more engaging drive when it’s a manual” but by that logic we should also have less technologically advanced tyres, less developed braking systems, because they all “detract” from the driving experience(!)

    I’m sure manual gearboxes will still be alive and well in racing cars, but for mass produced cars? Make way for the new blood!

    Also, BorgWarner must be rubbing their hands in glee. A 13% improvement in fuel economy? That’s good. But auto gearboxes have been more fuel saving that manuals for sometime. Just look at the stats for a Toyota Yaris.

    Manual:

    City mpg: 39.2
    Highway mpg: 53.3

    Automatic:

    City mpg: 42.2
    Highway mpg: 53.3

    It also emits less. The manual emits 141gmCO2/km and the Auto emits 136gmCO2/km.

  • avatar
    CeeDragon

    I’ve had some autos, some manuals (BMWs), and now I have a DSG with my GTI. My seat-of-the-pants rating (1-10) of involvment is:

    auto: 2
    manual: 10
    DSG: 6

    But when I factor in performance, economy, and convenience, the DSG comes out ahead for me.

    If involvement is the topmost or only factor, then manuals rule. For most of us, though, I think the DSG is a nice balance.

    One strange thing about the VW/Audi DSGs is that they preload the next gear based on your change of speed. If your speed is increasing and you’re in 3rd gear, then 4th gear is ready to go. If you suddenly brake and go to 2nd, the DSG needs another split-second to change from 4th to 2nd. I wonder if a triple-geared system is in the works…

  • avatar
    Bytor

    Puckrik,

    No one is forcing you to drive a manual, so why the glee at their passing?

    Teenagers today. To lazy to shift for themselves so they gleefully look forward to robbing the joy from those who do. That comment strikes me as mean spirited and nothing more.

    At least a DSG will allow full control similar to an manual for sporting use. But it won’t demand it, like a manual does.

    I will miss the manual when it is gone, but that is still some time into the future. I figure I will always have a manual classic in my garage.

    You either love manual, or you just don’t get it.

  • avatar
    wludavid

    It’s only very recently that autos have outperformed stick in fuel efficiencty. Maybe in the last 5-7 years? None of my cars have been that new, so it’s been stick for me.

    Plus, I just prefer the manual. It is more engaging.

    That said, I look forward to when dual clutch gearboxes rule the world. Smooth as an auto, the control of a manual, and all with incredible efficiency. I’m so taken with them I’ve considered the unthinkable — buying a VW! Gasp!

  • avatar
    wludavid

    @Bytor: I love the manual, and I think I “get” it. However, we’re going to have to accept the fact that in 10 years, the manual tranny as we know it is going to be viewed the same way we view non-ABS brakes and synchro-less transmissions. Quaint, compromised and old-fashioned.

  • avatar
    zenith

    Is your left leg paralyzed, missing, or cruelly deformed to the point that you can’t push in a clutch pedal?

    If the answer’s “No”, then you’re just lazy.IMHO, whether you own a manual transmission vehicle or not ,if you’re able-bodied, you should know how to drive one.

  • avatar
    beetlebug

    Personally I think auto boxes make driving a chore. It’s less involving and reminds me more of turning the dishwasher on then driving. I don’t consider buying a car without one. But everyone has an opinion on this. I’m not a fan of the dual clutch box due to the linear gear selection and a few other reasons. I can’t imagine the stick will go away any more then it did when the first automatics came out. There may be less choices of cars with them, but they’ll be around for awhile.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    The advances of technology are inevitable. It was only a matter of time until machines outperform humans.

    Look at the specs on the Nissan GT-R DSG trans:

    • Dual clutch design changes gears in less than 0.5 second (0.2 second in R mode).

    I know some pretty aggressive drivers; guys that run a sub 12 second quarter mile – and those guys can’t shift gears in half a second – let alone TWO TENTHS of a second.

    Less time between gears means, better mileage AND better quarter mile times.

    Viva technology!

    -ted

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Mr Zenith,

    I am in possession of 2 working legs, 2 working arms and a fully functioning brain (last bit may be called into question), therefore, by your logic, I’m lazy because I don’t do my own oil changes, ABS checks, tyre rotations, servicing, repairs, paint jobs, electric checks, etc.

    It’s got nothing to do with laziness. By your logic, because I’m in possession of a fully working body, I’m lazy because I drive a car. I should walk everywhere!

    I didn’t dismiss the manual gearbox completely. I believe it will survive in racing cars, but as Mr Wludavid says, it will be an obsolete technology.

    For the record, I drive manuals from time to time and I don’t like them.

  • avatar
    canfood

    @zenith: Is your right hand paralyzed, missing, or cruelly deformed to the point that you can’t pull a trigger?

    If the answer’s “No”, then you’re just lazy.IMHO, whether you own a gun or not ,if you’re able-bodied, you should know how to shoot one.

    I love manual transmissions as much as you do but the market has spoken (in america at least)

    the reality is that people don’t know how to drive manual and they do NOT need to know how to drive one.

    sad but true. If the manual goes away in new production cars…then there’ll always be classic cars. although the thought of a Focus ZX3 MT being classic just because it has a manual transmission kind of scares me.

    the real future threat is if those crazy safety bureaucrats start considering a Manual Transmission unsafe to drive!

    laugh now…but it could happen

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    One intersting fact about DSGs is that Volkswagen now has two different ones – the old and well-known 6-speed wet-clutch DSG and a new 7-speed dry-clutch one that can handle less torque, but is more efficient.

    In a bizarre move, VW has made both the old and new DSG available on the Golf 1.9 TDI (for the exact same price)

    Fuel economy:
    6-speed manual: 5,5 l/100 km (43 mpg)
    6-speed WC DSG: 5,8 l/100 km (41 mpg)
    7-speed DC DSG: 5,2 l/100 km (45 mpg)

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Boo!

  • avatar
    Bytor

    wludavid:

    Automatics getting better gas mileage is still not universal and seems more a marketing decision than a technical one. Giving very tall overdrives to the automatics and not to the manuals. Probably in an effort to move more of the higher margin automatics.

    Also I just checked the Yaris on feul econ.gov:
    Manual 29 36
    Automatic 29 35
    Which contradicts the previous posters claim.

    I disagree that manuals will be an anachronism in 10 years. Unless you think the ICE will be an anachronism, the manual will be here for some time to come.

    Occasionally I am forced to drive a slushbox (rentals), and I am shocked how bad they are, with a high disconnect between the gas pedal and the road behavior and laughable performance in a small car compared to a manual.

    A DSG at least would be tolerable, but if it really displaces anything, it is the slushbox. The DSG will kill the slushbox before it kills the manual. If you look at cars with DSG available, they often have two choices. DSG or Manual. No Slushbox.

    Death to the slushbox, long live the manual and the new automated manual (DSG).

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    There is another less tangible advantage with a manual gearbox (in Canada anyway). I drive a Corolla with a 5 speed box but it is also available as a 4 speed auto(traditional autobox) but only the manual is eligible for the federal government’s fuel economy grant. So an automatic Corolla will cost you C$2,000 more than a 5 speed, C$1,000 for the autobox and another C$1,000 based on the lack of the grant. Also from my point of view, with Ontario covered in ice and snow and overnight temperatures at -12C, it is much easier (and safer) to control a manual on dangerous roads than an automatic. This allows me to stick with good quality all-season radials whereas my wife’s automatic Elantra has to have snow tyres. I have never driven a DSG equipped car so I don’t know how things would work on our winter roads but I am sure glad I have a 5-speed.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Mirko, I thought one of the advantages of the new dry clutch was that it could handle *more* torque. Right now, the wet-clutch DSG is fairly torque limited… you have to make the transmission much larger in order to handle higher torque, which isn’t practical in a small car like the GTI.

    If automatics are more fuel efficient these days, it’s because they’re artificially crippling your ability to accelerate. In terms of efficiency, a manual transmission allows you to get the most out of your engine because you have no power loss through the transmission (a problem in nearly all slushboxes, save DSG-type ones). Me, I paid for my horsepower, and I want all of it. Buying a sporty car with a non-DSG automatic gearbox is like drinking non-alcoholic beer. What’s the point?

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Mr Bytor,

    Bear in mind, I’m talking about Euro spec’ed Yaris. Which probably means, different engines, weights, chassises, gear ratios etc.

    My figures come from http://www.autoebid.com. A independent third party car broker.

  • avatar
    baabthesaab

    The demise of the manual shifter does seem to be a fact, though a sad one for me. I’ve never liked automatics, even the manumatic ones, but I have never driven a DSG. I’m just not interested in trying them. Maybe if I lived in more of a city/suburb condition it would be nice, but in the open-road countryside, shifting rules.

  • avatar

    I prefer to know when my transmission is going to shift. As long as DSG is equiped with the flappy paddle override I’ll be fine. As was stated earlier, death to the slushbox.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Good, the sooner we can say goodbye to the outdated manual gearbox the better. Most of my cars have been auto gearboxes and I love them. SO much more pleasant to drive.

    I think it depends on your definition of fun to drive. In my quest for a 4-place convertible I drove everything under the sun. My final candidates, however, were strictly manual. Loved the A4, but the DSG was a one-trick pony and I was not getting the ‘fun’ factor I expected.

    My other vehicle is the first automatic I’ve had in 25 years. It serves its purpose with heavy traffic and even long distances where I can remain slightly detached.

    There’s nothing like at the end of a long day, or during beautiful weather, or any just for the hell of it, taking my car out for a rip-roaring cruise. Life is good.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    Hence my comment that this phenomena is not universal. Manuals are inherently more efficient, unless you tilt the gear ratios in favor of the slushbox, it can’t be more efficient.

    In North America Toyotas tend to get better mileage with manuals as they should.

    A DSG is essentially a computer controlled manual and can legitimately equal a manual.

    DSGs don’t bother me. I see them as slaying the great evil (slushbox) or that other soul sucking transmission (CVT).

    In a perfect world the DSG would replace the slushbox/cvt. The manual would still be there for enthusiasts.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    Some cars do show an advantage in fuel economy when you choose the auto over the manual. The new Civic, for example, gets 26/34 with the 5 speed manual and 25/36 with the auto. Final drive ratios must play a huge part in this. You can’t get a better connection between the engine and the wheels than a nice light flywheel and clutch.

    Fifth gear on a Civic still runs the engine pretty high in the rpm range, while the auto is many hundred rpm less. Give the car a tall 6th gear on the manual and I bet it would do much better.

    I personally love driving a manual. I have an Acura EL with a manual, a volvo V70 with an auto and a Subaru Forester with an auto. I choose the EL any day over the other two.

  • avatar
    windswords

    zenith:
    “IMHO, whether you own a manual transmission vehicle or not, if you’re able-bodied, you should know how to drive one.”

    I agree. Drive whatever you want, but at least know how to drive stick. I’m teaching all 3 of my boys to drive stick as they reach driving age.

    As for me, I like manual, but it depends on the application. For my daily commuter it’s 2 doors, no power windows, locks, and manual. For the family vehicle it’s 4 doors, power everything, and auto.

    I am looking forward to trying the DSG.

  • avatar

    Re: Automatics vs. clutches

    I think your preference depends a lot on what kind of driving you do on a daily basis. After I moved to Atlanta and had to drive in the rush-hour traffic on a daily basis, I was cursing the 6-speed Corvette I loved driving so much on the open roads in Texas. There’s no way I’d own anything with a manual transmission here as a daily driver.

    On the other hand, for a weekend toy, nothing beats winding through the gears on some of twisty roads in the outlying areas in north Georgia and east Tennessee.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    If your typical driving experience consists of a creeping commute in stop-and-go traffic, maybe the autobox fans have a point. But they might as well be riding public transit.

    I know of no greater joy-killer than the four-speed slushbox in my wife’s TDI Golf. It places a built-in, unavoidable time lag in every order my right foot ends to the engine room. The sluggishness inherent in automatics, IMHO, is a big reason so many drivers believe they need huge amounts of horsepower. But can an extra two or four cylinders really fix a problem with power delivery? These slow-reacting powertrains are reminiscent of the sloppy steering engineered into some cars. American’s call it “play,” as in: “Go ahead and play with the controls, you can’t hurt anything.”

    Then there’s the efficiency factor. I don’t know Yaris from Yastremski, but in a VW TDI, the manual-to-auto mileage penalty that’s consistently reported by TDI owners is around 10 mpg. That’s the same fuel economy penalty my Subaru suffers when I’m towing a one-ton travel trailer! Just imagine 80% of the vehicles on American highways pulling the same invisible handicap around.

    My big beef with driving is not that it’s too hard. It’s too easy. Modern cars make so few demands on a driver’s skill and attention, it’s no wonder most accidents are caused by inattention. A more engaged drive is a better driver. When driving manually, I’m encouraged to think and look ahead. I anticipate curves and hills, predicting what gear I’ll need next. That’s a very good habit when you’re traveling dozens of feet per second.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Count me in with the crowd that is for giving the customer what he wants, and willing to shoot the people who want to remove our choices because THEY think THEY know what is better for US.

  • avatar

    Katie Puckrik

    By your logic, cars that drive themselves will be a further improvement.

    I consider it my duty to teach kids to drive sticks. I recommend everyone else do the same. The longer we can keep the demand up, the better.

  • avatar
    baabthesaab

    Wheatridger, you have it just right. I also agree with the poster who insisted his kids learn the clutch. When my older daughter was in college she got a kick out of jumping into her car with guys who saw that it was a shifter and SHE could drive it!
    Although there was that one time when I was giving her a lesson and she stalled on take off. We were rear-ended by a young man in a pickup who simply hit the gas when he saw our brake lights go off. Bet he wasn’t a shift-driver.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but driving a manual in traffic isn’t nearly as bad as people make it sound. It actually gives you something to do during stop and go traffic, it’s not like pushing a clutch and moving a stick around is stopping you from doing whatever else you might be doing at the time. Every day I drive my manual Vette through rush hour in one of the worst drivers’ cities in the world (Boston) and I really can’t say the experience would be made any less unpleasant with an auto

    Comparing modern tires and braking systems to manual is a ridiculous analogy. Modern tires and braking systems give you MORE control over your car. Automatics and even DSGs give you LESS. If somebody does not understand their distinction, I have to wonder what they’re doing on a car enthusiast site

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    The only ones “removing our choices” are the automakers themselves. Been shopping for a mid-sized sedan with a manual transmission lately? It’s a very short list. Ditto for SUVs. My Subaru is rated to tow 2,400 lbs with the 5-speed, but only 2,000 lbs with the auto (don’t forget to pay for an accessory transmission cooler, too). The manual advantage makes it feasible for me to pull this trailer with this car. But when I looked three years ago, none of the larger SUVs I considered came with a manual transmission– which is my primary braking system on long Rocky Mountain passes. Much of my loyalty to Subaru and VW is because they still offer manuals in most of their vehicles.

    I’ve tried the DSG, and it’s certainly an improvement over conventional automatics. I miss the clutch, because I enjoy using one. The real drawback is less obvious. On the VW boards, I’ve read troubling tales of $400 fluid changes required to keep them healthy. “Now you know the rest of the story…”

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Mr Holzman,

    By my logic you’re right and I agree with it. Look at ANY line of technology and we progress to further automation. That is just the way forward. To hang onto old technology is just being a luddite.

    For mass produced cars, that’s the way forward. It might not work so well for racing cars. But that’s a point I concede. I look at driving rather functionally, instead of a pleasure. Which is what you lot see it as…..

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    I think more people should be forced to drive manuals. It might keep them from doing the wide variety of stupid human tricks i see on the road every day… text messaging while driving, yapping on the cell phone, eating, putting on makeup, reading the paper, using laptops. When you’re forced to pay attention to DRIVING, the accident rate due to negligent or inattendant drivers is sure to plummet.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    The theory that manuals outperformed autos in fuel economy was ludicrously off in _practice_ anyways, since even most very ideological shift drivers were rarely that good at it.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    If I had the choice between the manual Focus or the shitbox suckarse auto (which I have at the moment)I would have taken the 5 speed. (it was at a very good price)
    A bigger throttle body has mitigated it somewhat, but the auto ruins that car. There still is a large gap after one hits the gas that nothing happen except increased engine noise.
    Mind you the auto in the Honda Prelude wasn’t bad but the manual that friend had in the similar was still better.

  • avatar
    Antone

    I have not used a DSG before. I have historical chosen manual RWD cars (with e-brakes that can be used during motion without beeping). I feel much more control with a manual.

    Any manual enthusiast switch to a DSG with positive results?

  • avatar
    Bytor

    For the people who don’t get it. When comparing a slushbox to a manual it is about pleasure and functionality. The pleasure I won’t bother trying to explain to the dilettantes.

    But for functional advantages of a manual:

    Efficiency: the manual is more efficient than a slushbox. As far as claiming that most manual drivers aren’t good enough to see the gain. That is a statement from ignorace, that completely misunderstands the basic efficiency difference. Do a nice double clutch down shift increases pleasure, not doing doesn’t affect efficiency.

    Car control: with a manual you can easily balance the car with the accelerator, as it becomes much more sensitive to throttle inputs. Handy in the winter for shifting weight to the front or back with the throttle. You can also speed up/slow down with much greater precision. In an slushbox the accelerator is some kind of general suggestion, not a direct control.

    Simplicity: The manual transmission is the most simple mechanical design, this leads to lower maintenance and greater reliability.

    Price: Manuals are the least expensive to build and that is passed onto the customer.

    To me there are only advantages, and the disadvantages only exist in the minds of those who never really learned to drive a standard. Some people claim to be able to drive stick and not like it, but they are just dabblers who get nervous starting on a hill in traffic. The really don’t get the nuances and are not really comfortable shifting for themselves. They don’t grok manual.

    As far as other people not being able to drive a car. Well maybe I will get an insurance discount for scaring away thieves. Other than that I must live in a strange community because all my friends drive stick.

  • avatar
    AKM

    I’m with megan on this one!
    beside being fun, the big advantage of a manual is that it forces the driver to concentrate on his/her driving.

    my current car is an automatic, mostly because I share it with my wife who (*sob*) never really wanter to learn to drive stick (*sob**sob*). The big upside of it is really in the bumper-to-bumper traffic so common during our commutes, where shifting a manual is not fun, but just one more added torture.
    Now, give me an empty winding road, and a manual is just the way to go.

    And DSG is the best compromise there is around. Fortunately, there’s quite a chance that DSG will kill not the manual, but the automatic transmission.
    It does everything an automatic does, only better. On the other hand, it’s more expensive (often a factor for buyers, particularly for small cars), and not as involving (a buying factor for enthusiasts).

  • avatar
    rottenbob

    “Is your left leg paralyzed, missing, or cruelly deformed to the point that you can’t push in a clutch pedal? If the answer’s “No”, then you’re just lazy.”

    That’s like saying that you’re lazy if you choose to use a computer with word processing software instead of a typewriter.

    My office mate prefers manual, but he has an automatic so that his wife can also drive it. He learned his lesson when they were camping in a remote area and he broke his leg. His wife couldn’t drive the stick vehicle that he owned at the time. Long story short, he had to coach his wife on how to operate a stick just to get out of there, and she was none too happy.

    “IMHO, whether you own a manual transmission vehicle or not, if you’re able-bodied, you should know how to drive one.”

    Recently, my office mate (yes, him again) was teaching his daughter to drive. He couldn’t teach her to drive a stick because he doesn’t have one, and nobody he knows has one! And he couldn’t find a place to rent stick vehicles!

    The bottom line is that in the U.S. a large portion of the population cannot drive a stick. If you buy a stick, you need to be aware that you’ll leave yourself in a lurch in you ever run into a situation where you need someone else to operate your vehicle.

    People who insist on driving a stick remind me of those who cling to their typewriters, refusing to switch to a computer. Not many of them left now, are there?

  • avatar
    AKM

    Oh, here’s another advantage to a stick: it’s the best anti-theft device ever invented, as a full 95% of thieves can’t drive stick!

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    Katie, I can’t really find it in here, but why the vitrol against the clutch? I mean, it doesn’t hurt you, and no one is forcing you to drive it, so why say death to it?

    Zerofoo, time to step up the game. 12s on a six speed in the 1/4 is old hat. There are guys in streetable, street driven cars hitting 8s (and one 7) in the 1/4 on DIY cog swappers.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Oh Jeez! Anyone would think I’ve just launched a jihad against manual gearboxes!

    I’m just saying that it’s now an old technology and should be consigned to the history books and make way for new technology. Much like any other technology the world has ever seen!

    I drive manuals and when racing, it does make sense. But when you’re stuck in traffic, going to the shops or picking the children up from school. You know, the kind of driving non-petrolheads do, Autos make sense. And since this article is about how DSG’s will become more mainstream, it makes sense to put mainstream manuals to bed.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    But what if I want a manual?

  • avatar
    bill h.

    To each their own, but one of the reasons why I can’t see myself shopping a Malibu or an Aura vs. the Fusion/Milan is because you can (theoretically) get a manual with the Ford/Mercury, whereas that option doesn’t exist at all for the GM cars.

    Plus, the relatively simplicity of the manual shift tranny is beginning to look even better as certain car companies begin their War of Cogs (seven? eight ? why not even more gears in our slushboxes for bragging rights?). It’s starting to look as ludicrous as some of the Horsepower Wars.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    Puckrick:

    You have been consistently mean spirited and ignorant about the issue. You seem to have a personal hate on against manuals. Did someone laugh at your shifting skills and scar you for life?

    Sure you average minivan driving soccer mom probably has no interest in a a manual. They moved to slushboxes long ago.

    That doesn’t change all the advantages of the manual transmission I listed previously. It also doesn’t change the fact that the DSG is killing the slushbox and not the manual. Look at almost any car with a DSG, they have DSG + Manual options. Slushbox is what is being displaced and good riddance.

    Technology gets replaced when better technology comes along. But less control, less efficiency, more complex, less reliable, more expensive are not reasons to upgrade.

    RIP slushbox.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    An auto or DSG may be better for non gearheads, but if you’re not a gearhead, why spend so much time on this site? You won’t find me on a website that discusses interior decorating, because I couldn’t care less what color the drapes in my house are.

    And the person who compared a manual to a typewriter is completely missing the point. A typewriter has significantly less functionality than a word processor. A stick has MORE functionality than an auto. I don’t know why this point is so hard to understand

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Bytor,

    I’ll gloss over your personal remarks and go straight for the point.

    Clearly you must have missed the bits where I wrote that I DRIVE MANUALS and drive them when racing. But the article refers the DSG becoming mainstream and mainstream is the world of “soccer moms” and people going to the shops and back.

    By the way, one could argue, why do you have hate against “slushboxes”……?

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Bytor, you forgot that in inclement weather (read: slick roads) you can put the car in 2nd and get it moving that way, vs. an automatic that forces you to start in first, leaving your tires spinning. The manual has many great tricks up its sleeve. Clutch dies? $500. Transmission dies? Well, do you own your own home? Anyone with half a brain can use a stick in an extremely gas-efficient manner. And promptly wipe out any gas savings by riding it to the redline constantly.

    I switched from a manual to a DSG. Why? Traffic. Plain and simple. On the (relatively) open roads of Omaha, one could shift their way through traffic easily. In Atlanta… not so much. After about a month of being stuck in traffic and ending up with major leg cramps (driving the LGT was even worse because of how stiff the clutch pedal is), I traded in my manual Integra for a DSG GTI. My left leg is still thanking me, nearly a year later. And any time we know we’ll be stuck in traffic for a while, we take the GTI instead of the LGT.

    It was the best compromise I could come up with… if I was going to get an automatic, it was going to be the best darn automatic i could afford. And I do love it — i rarely use it in manual mode since it ‘learns’ your driving patterns and adjusts when it shifts accordingly. And it shifts like buttah. There’s a video on Youtube I saw not long ago… i think it was Fifth Gear, and they ran two TTs around a track, one with the DSG, one with a manual. The DSG beat the manual, hands down. You can argue endlessly that it’s not as fun as a manual, but in real-world driving, especially in this part of the country, a DSG is the next best thing without the muscle strain.

    My only regret was finding out about the new dry clutch DSGs coming out shortly. :( I was planning on keeping the GTI for a while, now i might have to get me one of those.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    thetopdog,

    Not quite sure I agree with you that TTAC is a site for (true) petrolheads. If it were, why are they reviewing cars like the Toyota Corolla S? That’s an appliance if I ever saw one! :O)

    TTAC is a site about cars and cars’ issue. Nothing more.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    Puckrick.

    It is the internet. People tend to make stuff about themselves all the time. So I ignore those irrelevant bits.

    Not only that but your experience with manuals seems to be growing as you post more. Your first mention was:
    “For the record, I drive manuals from time to time and I don’t like them.” While claiming that they are useful for racing. Now you claim to race manuals…

    I seriously doubt anyone who actually spends time racing a manual, drives a slushbox day to day and displays such open disdain for manuals. It doesn’t add up. Anyone who can competently race a manual would realize the car control advantages extend to every day driving as well.

    Your relegation of manuals to racing only doesn’t hold either as DSG systems with launch control will be technically faster. Sucks all the life out of it, but faster. If you are going to suck the life out of day to day driving, why not go DSG on track and do the same, while gaining a few tenths of a second where it makes a difference? Especially when you don’t like manuals?

  • avatar

    One advantage of a stick is that a lot of would-be car thieves can’t drive them either.

    As a journalist, I can tell you that the typewriter/computer analogy is totally false. The reason is simple: the computer allows me to write much faster than I could on a typewriter, because it is so easy to fix mistakes, rearrange paragraphs, etc. I think I would have found a new profession if computers hadn’t become available–cut and paste was that onorous. Even though I LOVED my manual Olivetti jportable, which now sits in my livingroom as a deco decoration. A slushbox doesn’t provide the least improvement in my ability to use a car.

    Ms. Puckrik: You say, “Look at ANY line of technology and we progress to further automation. That is just the way forward. To hang onto old technology is just being a luddite.”

    This seems a bit glib to me. Yes, society tend to go in that direction, but your statement implies that such should always be accepted unquestioningly. I can’t help thinking that you might be uncomfortable with that implication, even if you really think this is the case when it comes to cars. A somewhat tenuous analogy: 50 years from now, should unmarried people restrict sex to virtual reality? No need to worry about human feelings or pesky diseases that way!

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Bytor,

    What are you talking about? My disdain for manuals is only in context of everyday driving (which is what the article is about). Because one functions well under racing conditions, doesn’t mean it’ll work in everyday conditions, does it?

    I don’t like diesels, but I respect that they get better mpg than petrol engines. But I wouldn’t dream of using a diesel engine in racing! It works in one set of conditions, but not under another.

    That’s my point.

    P.S. Since it’s the internet (and people make stuff up, like you say) therefore, I believe you’re making up your hatred for slushboxes, and secretly you love them! :O)

    P.P.S Mr Holzman,

    With regards to sex and human feelings. Let’s totally apply your analogy to mine.

    If you simply want to have a baby and don’t want to get involved with someone else, a turkey baster gets involves. i.e functional driving using an auto.

    If you want to have a relationship and want to do it for love*, then you’d look for a partner and go on that rollercoaster of feelings. i.e driving for fun with a manual gearbox.

    Alternatively, if you don’t want children and can’t stand other human beings. Go celibate. i.e Walk!

    P.P.P.S How has this thread come to this?!

    * = God, I hate that word!

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Here’s a missed advantages of manuals: Less demand from car thieves. That’s reason enough if your luxo/performance whip represents a large financial/emotional investment and is a target vehicle. Better yet, if you’re on a budget, no one messes with a beater manual. My buddy’s crappy old (yet reliable) 5 speed Altima is left unlocked in the worst ‘hoods. And certain late model domestics with an MT are great, reliable bargains (especially when compared the same model with an auto).

  • avatar
    Aardappel

    I absolutely can’t wait for DSG to completely drive manuals out of the market in sporty cars. For one, because it will give me more car buying choice (my next car must have a DSG), but also because I will enjoy seeing all the manual fans suffer.

    Why do want them to suffer? Normally I am very respectful of everyones individual choices. But manual fans are some of the most obnoxiously arrogant people.

    I don’t mind occasionally manually selecting gears, but I do not enjoy having to deal with a clutch, so I drive an auto. You wouldn’t know how often I get to hear that “You’re not a *real* driver” or similar comments from manual fans. I find that rather short sighted, and very arrogant. I take my car (a 350z) to the track a lot, and I find that I am being “engaged” plenty just dealing with finding the right line, speed, and traction limits, thank you very much.

  • avatar

    I think it’s a shame that so many people get little economy cars with crappy automatics. not because I think they should be more “involved” or that I decry their ignorance, but because they lose a lot of the capability of the car. a weensy little engine in a little car can actually do perfectly well for accelerating and overtaking (and even be fun) when you have a manual and can tell it what to do, but put an automatic on it and you’ll often end up waiting for it to catch up with you.

    if DSGs replace those automatics (and people learn a few simple things about how to get a little more out of their engine/transmission), I think they’ll be more satisfied with more economical cars, and maybe even enjoy them. I don’t think anyone can enjoy an economy car with an economy engine and an economy automatic.

  • avatar

    Ms. Puckrik,

    I don’t “hate” slushboxes, but I do feel somewhat threatened by their hegemony. I worry that in future car purchases, it will be harder and harder to find sticks. My best friend just gave up trying. He buys used cars and didn’t have the patience to find one with a stick. Another friend–same thing. Slushboxes are closing in all over. And I don’t want no stinkin’ DSG either. I love my clutch.

    I do sympathize w/ the denizens of Atlanta though. If I had to drive in a lot of stop and go, I don’t know what I would do. I had a miserable hour once on Rt. 95 in Maryland where the traffic was stop and go under 10 mph.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Count me as one of the few people who wasn’t bothered by driving a manual in heavy traffic, and I have a heavy-duty aftermarket racing clutch at that!

    I chalk it up to one of the sacrifices I’m willing to make to drive an enjoyable car. Sure you can shift faster and turn a lap that’s a couple seconds quicker than a manual, and if I was into heavy racing competition, I’d go with a DSG to shave those hundreths of a second off of my lap times. But it’s not as engaging, it’s not as fun, and it makes driving feel like a video game.

    But then again, I guess I am a Luddite.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    Puckrik: So car control, efficiency, simplicity, reliability, frugality don’t matter in daily driving? Strange. You seem blind to a large list of manual advantages, simply because you dislike driving manual.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Oh, and I don’t disagree that manuals are more fun, challenging, efficient, cost-effective, etc. It’s just that in the gridlock-ridden real world, a DSG is the next best thing.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    “I don’t like diesels, but I respect that they get better mpg than petrol engines. But I wouldn’t dream of using a diesel engine in racing! It works in one set of conditions, but not under another.”

    Good thing you’re not racing at Les Mans, where you’d have to eat the exhaust of the winning Audi TDIs! But keep it up, Katie, you’re keeping this discussion going…

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Why not look at the glass half full? DSG replacing conventional automatics?

    There are a few cars that do get better gas mileage in automatic form. It’s likely due to the shift logic being oriented towards economy to score high on the EPA test. Check the figures on an IS250 6AT and 6MT and you’ll see a significant difference.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    As far as gridlock goes, I just put up with it on the rare occasion I get stuck in it. But I always organize my living conditions to be such that I have a relatively open commute. I have been driving for over 20 years. The population here is over a million and many people here do spend an hour in traffic each day. I don’t.

    My response to regular gridlock would not be an auto transmission, it would be moving to avoid regular gridlock. Being stuck in traffic is no way to spend a portion of your life regardless if you have a clutch or not.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Bytor, that sounds great on paper, but in reality, it’s not easy to find the work I do in anything but a real city. Heck, I moved to Smryna so I would avoid the worst of Atlanta’s daily rush hour(s) traffic (and I commute against traffic, too). But it’s the price you pay to live in an area with things like, I dunno, jobs or whatever. Who needs those, right? Regular crappy traffic is a fact of life in many major cities, and most people do what they can to minimize it. Yet people live there anyway because that’s where the jobs are, and the entertainment, and everything else.

    I don’t plan on moving back to Omaha any time soon just because I never had to spend 45 minutes cursing traffic (well, except that one time… no one knows how to drive in the snow). It’s called compromise. Some people, like my husband, drive the stick anyway. For me, it wasn’t worth it. YMMV.

  • avatar
    Aaron

    The manual transmission will never die. There will always be a demand for it although the range of cars they’re available in will probably diminish. This will be most disappointing because even a wagon is more fun to drive with a stick shift.

  • avatar
    dean

    Katie, old technology does not imply that it is bad technology. A manual transmission has yet to be beat for simplicity, cost and function.

    The idea of a DSG for the masses that will replace the current automatics is terrific, but I think many here are worried that it will limit the availability of plain ol’ manuals. All it takes is for the manufacturer to think like Katie, and they’ll think that the DSG is good enough for everyone.

    One advantage of a manual that hasn’t been mentioned yet: once you are used to your car you know exactly what gear you are in by feel. That is the biggest disadvantage of sequential selectors like DSG paddles or the “manumatics.”

  • avatar
    rpn453

    It will be a long time before the manual transmission goes extinct. When the demand for manuals drops so low that not one auto manufacturer makes them anymore and there are no good used manual-equipped cars to be found, I’ll buy an automatic.

  • avatar
    Bytor

    Dean: Funny you should mention that. I was looking at a Logitech Wheel for racing games that has an shifter with a standard shift pattern. I was thinking awesome, I will always know what gear I am in, unlike those lame up/down buttons in race games. I didn’t even think about that for DSG cars having never driven one in the real world. In racing games the buttons suck. Give me a real shifter any day.

    rpn453: Yeah, I am not too worried about the manual for a long time. I know I will be driving manual till 2020 or later (I plan on buying a new car around 2010 and driving it for 10 years). After that the slushbox will be extinct and a large chunk of cars will probably be electic drive so gears might be obsolete. Even then, I will probably keep an old classic manual around. Maybe my nephew will enjoy it:

    “My uncle preserved for me, an old machine —
    For fifty-odd years
    To keep it as new has been his dearest dream

    I strip away the old debris, that hides a shining car
    A brilliant red barchetta, from a better, vanished time
    I fire up the willing engine, responding with a roar
    Tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime…
    ” – Rush, Red Barchetta.

  • avatar
    glenn126

    Megan wrote “you forgot that in inclement weather (read: slick roads) you can put the car in 2nd and get it moving that way, vs. an automatic that forces you to start in first, leaving your tires spinning”

    Um, no. My wife’s prior 2002 Hyundai Sonata and her new 2007 Hyundai Sonata, as well as most Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and several other brands, all have a “manumatic” self-shifting mode on their automatics. I regularly start out the Sonata in 2nd on our crap Michigan roads which the road commission seems to be hell-bent on leaving in the worst condition I’ve seen for years. I euphamistically call it “the poor man’s traction control” (i.e. starting in 2nd in the automatic) but in fact, my wife’s ’07 Sonata actually has traction control, ESC, ABS, etc etc.-but starting in 2nd STILL helps the car.

    In fact, most early three speed automatics – and I’m talking 1950 on – started out in 2nd gear, and the only way to access “low” was to select it on the transmission selector. My own very first car, a 1966 Rambler Ambassador, had P-R-N-D2-D1 and L. Guess what D2 meant? Yep, it started in 2nd, shifted to 3rd. For years and years, Ford used P-R-N-D-2-1. Guess what happened when you selected “2″? It stayed in 2nd gear no matter what.

    Besides which, starting a manual car in 2nd gear is not possible for many drivers who, even if they can drive stick, appear to be far too busy talking on their cell phones and doing God only knows what else other than paying attention and driving. Am I right, or what?


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